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A cold Oscar night on tap as frost warnings issued [Updated]

February 27, 2011 |  7:28 am

For Oscar Sunday, the rain and snow of the last few days will give way to clear skies, with temperatures remaining cold. Forecasters said those on the red carpet and at the Oscar parties should have temperatures in the 40s.

The cold weather has closed the Grapevine due to snow and ice overnight. [Updated at 7:34 a.m.: On  Sunday morning, the California Highway Patrol began escorting vehicles along Interstate 5 again.] 

A frost advisory was in effect in some mountain and high desert areas, with officials warning of temperatures in the 20s this morning -- cold  enough to kill plants and crops.

On Saturday, Burbank, Glendale and Studio City were some of the areas that saw flakes of soft hail or snow pellets, according to weather reports. The precipitation was part of an unusual weather system that flowed south from Canada and dropped snow and rain across much of the state.

The snow level in L.A. County as of Saturday evening was about 1,700 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Earlier reports had forecast snow as low as 1,000 feet.

But even below that, there was the type of frozen precipitation known as graupel, which "certainly looked like real snow," said Stuart Seto, a specialist at the weather service.

In Burbank, at just 600 feet, the white stuff started to fall about 5 p.m.

"It just started coming down as hail, and then there was this giant sheet of snow; it was awesome," said Matthew Currie Holmes, an actor from Burbank.

Holmes said the precipitation quickly formed a white layer over his lawn and car. Shortly after, his neighbors launched a snowball fight outside his home, he said.

-- Sam Allen

Photo: Storm clouds move east, revealing a view of downtown Los Angeles and the snow-dusted mountains beyond, Feb. 26, 2011. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times